Delhi: the Commonwealth Games - and beyond!

Against seemingly insurmountable odds, the XIX Commonwealth Games are set to go ahead. The crisis-hit Games have dominated headlines both nationally and abroad for weeks – dirty and incomplete venues, a pedestrian bridge collapse, a suspected militant attack and, most recently, a snake discovered in the Athlete's Village.  Add to this allegations of corruption and it's no surprise to learn that support for the 10-day sporting event from local residents has waned.

But although the road to the Games has at times been farcical and frustrating the Indians are – as one local commentator put it – 'champs of the last minute'.  Preparations are likely to continue right up to the opening night but  it appears they'll actually pull it off.  And even if the Games aren't the resounding success organisers hoped they would be, the fact that they're going ahead at all is arguably a success story in itself.  And for this India is – for the most part – happy.  In Delhi at least, the drilling that has become the soundtrack to the city for the last two years will finally come to an end.

If you're travelling to Delhi during the Games, October 3 to 14 2010, this is what you can expect.

The Games

The Commonwealth Games are held every four years.  It's the first time India has held the Games and some 7,000 participants and officials from 71 teams are expected to attend the event.

Eicher have produced a map (Rs 40) specifically for the Commonwealth Games detailing Games venues, places to visit, the metro network and where to shop.  You'll find these in bookshops across town.

Travel

All international visitors arriving in Delhi will land at the recently opened – and very swanky – Terminal 3 at Indira Gandhi International Airport. Travel to the city centre can be done by bus or prepaid taxi (some hotels offer airport pick-up). There are 24-hour pre-paid taxi stands inside the Arrival halls and is probably the best option.  Unless you're staying at one of the big hotels, taxi drivers won't always know where you're going so it helps to have the phone number of your hotel on you.  The metro, which was due to be completed in time for the Games, is now scheduled to be finished by the end of 2010.

Be prepared for delays travelling into (and around) the city.  Designated Commonwealth Games Lanes are in place on key routes to facilitate Games-related traffic and are operational 24 hours.

Tickets

Tickets for most events are still available.  You can buy tickets through www.tickets.cwgdelhi2010.org, by phone (1800 102 1294) or through designated retail outlets.  Everyone holding a valid Games ticket is entitled to free transport to and from the venue on Delhi Metro and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses on the day of the event.

Security

Expect a heavy security presence during the Commonwealth Games and factor this in when travelling to venues.  Minimise what you take with you to events in order to ease security checks.

There is an additional security threat with the impending decision by the Allahabad High Court over the disputed ownership of a religious site in Adyodhya (Uttar Pradesh) due on the 28 September. While this doesn't pose a direct threat to the Games, it could spark communal unrest across India, which could impact travelling around Delhi and the rest of the country.  It's possible that the ruling could be further delayed until after the Games finish to avoid any disruption to the event.

Stay up-to-date with security issues by checking in regularly with media sources and government websites.

Health

In addition to the more common traveller ailments usually associated with Delhi, the city has experienced a higher than normal outbreak of dengue fever.  Make sure to take proper precautions and wear long sleeve clothing and use a DEET-based insect repellent in order to avoid being bitten.

Planning a trip to Delhi or the rest of India anyway, regardless of the Games? Check out these helpful articles: